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Ali Pasha. Gratified with his interview, he returned to Joannini, and there began to transfer to paper the impressions of his pil grimage, in the poem which will prove his principal claim to niche in the Temple of Fame.
I have not space to allow him through his delightful wanderings amidst classic regions, though perfectly entering into his enjoyment of them. No place illustrated by great men or important events was neglected, and, in addition to the great poem, which must have been always prominent in his mind, the muse was frequently called upon to commemorate striking scenes and incidents, or interesting persons. From his self-acknowledged libertine character, every female he writes verses upon is supposed to have been a mistress; but, although by no means disposed to be the champion of his continence, I am convinced there are many exceptions to this, and that to the above-mentioned foolish boasting may be added a considerable quantity of the fiction of poetical license. He remained six weeks at Athens, for the sake of viewing all the classic scenes of that interesting country; and though he addressed "Maid of Athens, &c." to the daughter of the house in which he was located, before he quitted that city, there is not even a suspicion that he did not leave her untainted by the scant morality of London and Cambridge.
He seemed determined to leave no spot he had ever read of unvisited; from Athens he went to Smyrna, where he wrote the second canto of "Childe Harold." He next explored the ruins of Ephesus, and from thence proceeded to Constantinople. As a poet, he could not be so near the great scene of Homer's action, without making a pilgrimage to the Troad, which, in spite of Mr. Bryant, confirmed him in his Homeric faith. But he was not satisfied with believing in Homer, he wished to prove one of the poetically-registered wonders of antiquity practicable, and, without the hope of having a Hero to welcome him on his landing, he rivalled Leander by swimming from Sestos to Abydos. Of this feat he was always very proud, as indeed he was of everything that proved his courage, agility, or strength: when, in his later travels, he was compelled, as he says, " to give an impertinent fellow a good English punch in the guts," he did not fail to mention it in more than one letter. He made another short sojourn at Constantinople, during which he enjoyed an excursion through the Bosphorus to the Black Sea and Cyanean Symplegades; he then returned to Athens, where, after a trip to Corinth, and a tour of the Mora to visit Velay Pasha, he seemed to linger as loath to depart, and took up his residence at the Franciscan convent. While here he wrote many of the beautiful smaller pieces rendered interesting by local cirsumstances and personal associations, by which they are to be
traced, among which may be particularly noted "The Curse of Minerva,"- -a severe, though perhaps well-deserved castigation of Lord Elgin, for his depredations upon the sculptural remains of Greece.
After an absence of two years he, in July 1811, returned to England, a wiser, but I fear not a better man." Whether he had been as various and successful in his amours as he would lead his readers to think, I know not; but there was always a reckless. ness of the peace of others which led him to write verses to every lady he admired, whatever her position might be. Those to Mrs. Musters (Miss Chaworth), on his leaving England were, to say the least, inconsiderate, and showed no regard for the happiness of the person to whom they were addressed. Of the same class were lines to "Florence" (Mrs. Spenser Smith), each piece beautifully proving to the ladies of what little value was his boasted love; take for instance, the last line of the address to "Mrs. Musters,' and the verses to "Florence," and the " Maid of Athens," which so quickly followed! Neither in his life nor his writings did Byron show the least acquaintance with true, pure love, or a proper appreciation of the character of woman. He has a poet's eye for beauty, but it is likewise the eye of a sensualist. His few poems addressed to "Thyrza," seem to be the only ones on which secrecy placed its finger; he never would tell even his most intimate friends who she was. Some persons pretended that there was likewise a mystery about a period of his travels in Greece, in which a tale of horror was mixed up, but I can find nothing to prove there was any foundation for it, beyond the character of his writings, and the mystification he sometimes delighted to deal in.
On his return to England, he proposed settling at Newstead, and sent down some furniture to render it more comfortable. He had established his mother there before his departure, reversing, in his last letter, the position of mother and son, by sending her advice to behave properly to her neighbours, "for you know," he adds,
you are a vixen." Mrs. Byron had for some years enjoyed a pension from government of £300 a year; why granted nobody could discover; but it must have been a great relief to her needy son. His coming home proved the signal for her death; for, when the upholsterer appeared with the furniture, she, from some little mistake on his part, flew into one of those fits of rage that used to amuse her son so much, but which, in this instance, she carried beyond a joke, as the passion produced a fit, and the fit death. As the inother of a Byron, he, of course, paid her decent respect, but he was not likely even to affect grief.
Once more in London, he fell willingly into the vortex of pleasure,
to which, very shortly great inducements were added. On the 27th of February, he made his first speech in the House of Lords; it was respectable, but yet did not hold out a promise of much oratorical excellence, and he seldom spoke afterwards. But, ay "English Bards" had been closely connected with his taking his seat, so his first speech was as quickly followed by the great event of his life, the publication of "Childe Harold." Like several other poets, he preferred other comparatively worthless works to this his best, and was with great difficulty prevailed upon to publish it. He however, was persuaded by his distant relation, Mr. Dallas, the author of some novels, to whom he gave the copyright. He was soon made aware of his error; for the sensation created by the poem was immense; as he expresses it: "I awoke one morning, and found myself famous!" He had no longer to complain of the world's neglect, the danger now was of his being spoiled by adulation. To him who three years before could not gain entrance to good society, not only was every door of the great and the rich thrown open, but all the fascinations of beauty and pleasure were put in force to allure the titled genius into their magic circle. His unexpected success put an end to all ideas of retirement; no man ever coveted admiration more keenly, and he now enjoyed it to satiety. The very persons he had so freely vituperated in his satire, felt their anger melt away beneath the rays of his genius, and eagerly sought his friendship. It is impossible to trace the various reconciliations without a smile. Moore, whom he had sharply censured under the name of Little, began with something approaching to hostility, but he was easily mollified, and became the noble poet's Fidus Achates. I do not say he became his friend, in the exalted and scarcely in the wordly meaning of the word; in a letter to Moore, after they had long been on the most intimate relations, he says: "I don't know what to say about friendship, I never was in friendship but once, in my nineteenth year, and then it gave me as much trouble as love. I am afraid, as Whitbread's sire said to the king, who wanted to knight him, I am too old; but, nevertheless, no one wishes you more friends, fame, and felicity, than yours, &c." Moore felt this cold-blooded, flippant declaration deeply, and made no reply for some time. In fact, Byron only told the truth; he could be kind and generous as a patron or protector, but his friendships were like his loves-selfish and not proof against absence. His letters are exceedingly pleasant reading, but we feel assured that Moore has suppressed many that would have betrayed double dealing, and the bulk of them are addressed to persons who could be of use to him. The romantic friendship he declared for Lord Clare was like his love for Mary Duff and Miss Chaworth nothing but the dream of a
youthful fancy, that only rose to his mind when in a more than usually morbid state, and never influenced a single action of his life.
To attempt to remark upon " Childe Harold," or the numerous poems that now poured from his copious genius like a flood, were a work of supererogation; England, Europe, the world are acquainted with their beauties, their peculiarities and their faults. Well do I recollect when the question of every intellectual person you met was: "Have you seen the G, I, A, O, U, R?" for no one could pronounce the word, and therefore spelt it. Byron proved that no poet since Shakespeare had so deep an insight into so many and various objects for poetry: the deepest passions,the most evanescent trifles,-the profoundest feelings,-the most heartless cynicisms, all flowed chaotically from his pen, the most astounding discords jostling against each other, and harmonizing into a beautiful whole. But wonder was the predominant feeling his works created, for they wanted the divine principle of goodness; they made man proud of his fellow-man's intellect, but they left him no better, and gave birth to no love. Through the whole of his writings, from "English Bards to the last Canto of "Don Juan," there is one prominent character in the scene. I know not whether he wished it; if he did, he failed in concealing the original from which he drew; according to the time, the place, and the circumstances, "Harold," the "Giaour," the " Corsair," Lara," "Manfred," ay, even "Cain," are all himself. Almost the only exception to this is the "Prisoner of Chillon," and it is therefore, in my opinion, the more beautiful. When his domestic differences were so blameably brought before the world, this was very much against him; Byron was inseparably connected with his heroes→→→ and a man with "one virtue and a thousand crimes," was not deemed likely to make a good husband, particularly when that single virtue itself looked very like a vice.
Amidst dissipation, amours, poetry, boxing, and most incongruous pursuits, he seems to have given free course to his pleasures for a year; then his increasing difficulties forced upon him the necessity for a wealthy marriage or more foreign travel. He planned a voyage to Abyssinia, but, in the mean time made proposals for the hand of Miss Milbanke, an heiress, and a peeress in prospective, but was rejected. For a length of time, his pride prevented his deriving any pec .niary advantage from his writings, and his early copyrights were given away; but when his scruples were once overcome by the kind representations of Mr. Murray, the eminent publisher, he seems to have had no objection to all that could be obtained from them, and strikes us, in his letters, as o bad hand at driving a bargain. But that time had not yet
arrived, and, with no diminution in his pleasures, his debts and wants increased. Another year passed away, as the preceding one had done; dissipation seemed to have no power to dull the powers of his mind, or clog the wings of his fancy, some of his most popular pieces being produced at this time. As a pis-aller, be resolved again to enlist Hymen in his favour; and when we see the manner in which his inauspicious marriage was concoctei, wo cannot at all wonder at the result. He consulted with a friend whether he should make proposals to a lady he had not then addressed on the subject, or whether he should repeat his offer to Miss Milbanke, with whom, though rejected, he had kept up a friendly correspondence. His friend, who saw the incompatibility of a union with Miss Milbanke, advised him to write to the newlymentioned lady, which he accordingly did, and was by her likewise rejected. He then fell back upon Miss Milbanke, and wrote such "a pretty letter" that his friend's objections were overruled, and the important missive was sent. The text of the Memoirs gives us no means of telling the sex of this friend, but from the "pretty letter," I should think it was a lady-perhaps Lady Melbourne. Whether dazzled by his increasing fame, or affected by the "pretty letter," no one can tell, but anybody can see that Miss Milbanke acted quite as imprudently as Lord Byron, in entering into a union the dangers of which must have been so apparent. Lord Byron was capable of entertaining for a time what he called love, but then it must be with a nature looking up to him, holding him as an object worthy of almost worship-this might be a nature soft as we are led to suppose the Countess Guiccioli was, or fiery as that of Marianna or the Fornarina-but not like Miss Milbanke's, metaphysical, mathematical, and reflective. Miss Milbanke was good, pious, learned, and highly intellectual-Byron was dissipated, to use the mildest word, a sceptic, a man of fiery genius, and boasting in his wilfulness-such a match was like the bringing together of fire and water, and it is surprising that the lady's mother, who is said to have exercised so much influence after it had taken place, did not prevent it. After an absence from each other of ten months, on the 2nd of January, 1815, they were married. A wit has said that the marriage which ends a comedy, is frequently the commencement of a tragedy, and truly Buch should I suspect this to have been. Mr. Moore, though, throughout his work, more a friendly advocate than a biographer, confesses that there was not a particle of love on either side. If such was the case, we are totally at a loss to fathom the lady's object; Lord Byron's, notwithstanding his professions to the contrary, may be more easily guessed.
But little immediate advantage accrued; so far, indeed, to the